The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda (Video)

Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha

The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda
The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda

Google recently celebrated the vibrant performer Carmen Miranda, – an iconic superstar from yesteryear

Google published a doodle commemorating what would have been Carmen Miranda’s 108th birthday, on February 9.

Millenials will likely have no idea who this woman is, yet she was the Lady Gaga of her day. She brought charisma and sparkle to Hollywood, that it hadn’t seen before.


The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda
The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda


She was born in Portugal as Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha. Her opera singer father was furious and violent towards her mother when she permitted Miranda to go to her first audition. He refused to let her use her real name, so she became Carmen Miranda.

When still a child, her family moved to Brazil, and as a young girl of 14, she found her first job working in a hat shop. It was here that she would hone her millinery skills that enabled her to create her outrageous hats. Throughout her entire career, she continued to make most of them.





Her hats became her trademark, a symbol that has given her such positive notoriety until this day

In an interview she gave in London, in 1948, she explained the inspiration behind them. She described the local “baianas” who were African-Brazilian fruit vendors. They wore vibrant colors, extravagant turbans and balanced fruit baskets on their heads.



The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda
The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda

She swiftly rose to stardom in Brazil

Becoming a famous radio star during the 1920s. By the 1930s she had become the most famous singer in Brazil. She was recording samba style albums and appearing in sound films. These “chanchada” films were mostly a satire of Hollywood films.

In 1940, Lee Shubert, a Broadway businessman, discovered Miranda during a performance. He offered her an 8-week contract to perform in The Streets of Paris, on Broadway. As she was already immensely successful in Brazil, she could afford to also bring her band Bando da Lua.


She was in Hot demand

After starring in the film Down Argentine Way, with Betty Grable, Miranda’s fame became meteoric. Quickly, her trademark exotic clothing and latin accent branded her the Chiquita Banana Girl.

Between 1940 and 1953 she made fourteen films. By 1945 she was the richest woman in the United States. Also voted the 3rd most popular personality in America, President Franklin Roosevelt invited her and her band to perform for him.

Sadly, after World War II her popularity waned. Hollywood was evolving. Sexy new bombshell performers were on the scene, such as Marilyn Monroe. Miranda’s movie appearances were filmed in black and white, after years in technicolor. Hitting her mid-30s was rough, as show business preferred their stars young and fresh.



The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda
The Unforgettable Carmen Miranda

Brazil labeled her a sell-out after she abandoned the country for her career in the US

After a humiliating visit, she refused to go back for 14 years. Attempts made to bring her nostalgia back to Brazilians have seen a museum built in her honor in Rio de Janeiro. The museum will open later this year.

Miranda put Brazil on the map, for the first time. Called The Brazilian Bombshell, she brought American attention to the South American country.  However, many South Americans, offended by her stereotyped portrayal of them, remain critical.

But a lot of time has passed, and many are starting to see her more as a celebration of their rich and vibrant culture. Miranda was the first Latin American to imprint her hands and feet in the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre courtyard.


Sadly, Miranda was young when she died

After a difficult recuperation from recurring bronchitis, she struggled with a performance, the day of her death. In good spirits, after a party, she suffered a fatal heart attack after a fall in the hallway to her bathroom. She was only 46. Her body was flown back to Brazil for burial.

We also remember her nostalgically for her hit songs such as Chica Chica Boom Chic and South American Way. She was a true icon, and her image is immortal.


YOUTUBE (Carmen Miranda – Filmes):